EARTH CITY, Mo. -- More often than not, any drama going into NFL preseason contests are the direct result of a desperate search to find something, anything that can make the exhibition season more interesting.
And usually, whatever build leads into those games falls flat when the games actually begin. But as the St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints prepare to open the preseason Friday at the Edward Jones Dome, there's one storyline that really is worth watching even if it doesn't manifest into anything during the game.
That storyline centers on Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams coaching his first game in St. Louis against his former team, the Saints. Coaches and players meet their former teams all the time, but few of those meetings come with the strange and awkward history of Williams and the Saints.
Williams, of course, was at the heart of the New Orleans bounty scandal that earned him a year-long suspension and a similar punishment for Saints coach Sean Payton. Thursday, ESPN Saints reporter Mike Triplett offered a look back at just how the Williams-Saints marriage ended and why there could be bad blood between the two sides heading into this game.
Contained in Triplett's piece is even further detail on the ending of Williams' tenure in New Orleans, courtesy of Nola.com.
Clearly, the two sides didn't end on good terms, and Williams does have a history of being more aggressive in the preseason than other coordinators. But Rams coach Jeff Fisher has made it clear he wants his team to keep it simple in the preseason, so it's entirely possible this will be much ado about nothing.
But if any preseason storyline is legitimately intriguing in this first week, it's this one.
A roundup of Thursday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com: In the Ram-blings, we opened the day with a look at the rising cost of keeping average quarterbacks. ... Next, I provided a closer look at the man who could be the biggest competition for defensive end Michael Sam, defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks. ... From there, I teamed with Triplett to offer a glance at Saints quarterback Ryan Griffin, who was nearly a Ram last year. ... Finally, we closed the day with notes on how the Rams plan to approach the preseason in the simplest of ways.
Triplett also offered Payton's thoughts on Sam and how he echoed Bill Parcells in his comments.
At stltoday.com, Jim Thomas writes that kicker Greg Zuerlein isn't enthusiastic about the proposed change in the distance of extra points.
Columnist Bernie Miklasz says it's time to recalibrate expectations for quarterback Sam Bradford.
At theMMQB.com, Peter King gives his take on the Rams after a brief visit to St. Louis.
In that same space, Andy Benoit took a deeper look at the Rams' chances in 2014.